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The Arrival of a Train (1896)

L'arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat (original title)
A group of people are standing in a straight line along the platform of a railway station, waiting for a train, which is seen coming at some distance. When the train stops at the platform, ... See full summary »
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Storyline

A group of people are standing in a straight line along the platform of a railway station, waiting for a train, which is seen coming at some distance. When the train stops at the platform, the line dissolves. The doors of the railway-cars open, and people on the platform help passengers to get off. Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

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Documentary | Short

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Release Date:

25 January 1896 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Arrival of a Train  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.31 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Since this was the first motion picture some people had ever seen, reportedly audience members in the front row sometimes attempted to jump out the way of the train, as they thought it was going to hit them. See more »

Connections

Edited into Landmarks of Early Film (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A moving train - voila
27 February 2003 | by (Houston, Texas) – See all my reviews

Having invented a hand-cranked, motion-picture camera during the year 1894 - and making films that could be exhibited to scientific groups during the early months of 1895; Louis Lumiere was a driven man. During one exhibition of the Cinematograph at the Societe d'Encouragement pour l'Industrie Nationale, he met an engineer (Jules Carpentier) who wished to manufacture the invention for selling in Paris. Louis accepted the proposal. Initial production would be 25 units. They would be professionally manufactured as opposed to the inventors experimental camera. Louis continued to use this camera to gather enough views for a public presentation at the end of the year.

There were a number of problems in producing the first prototype of the twenty-five units. Even when Louis, exhausted, took some rest-and-relaxation at the Lumiere's vacation house in the town of le Ciotat (pronounced see-oh-tah), he could not relax; and remained in constant communication with Jules in Paris. Louis was able to communicate on a daily basis with Jules because the mail trains of "le P.L.M. (Paris-Lyon-Mediterranee)" railway provided him with a means of staying in touch as well as providing his transportation between Lyon and la Ciotat.

Still driven by his work, he decided to go to the station and use the arriving train as one of his subjects. Perhaps wanting to assure that there would be plenty of action to record on the station platform, he took along his mother, his wife, and his two children along with their nanny. They all ventured forth, on a bright sunshiny Mediteranean day - la Ciotat is on the southern coast of France, between Marseille and Toulon, where people came to sunbathe and fish - the group ventured forth to the train station on the northern edge of the town with the verdant foothills of the Alpes de Provence providing a backdrop to the railroad.

Louis' wife, in a neck-to-foot elegant dress with a pristine white bonnet, and the nanny were instructed to run around the platform and appear as if they were trying to locate an expected-arriver as the train ground to a halt. The mother, in a shawl, would quietly observe - as a good matriarch should. Louis could not position his camera and let the train chug from right to left across the view because he would just capture a blur. He positioned it very near the track so the train would be seen in its entire length; and then rattle by very close to the viewer. The station personnel, in uniform, would hold back the crowd of departing people on the platform until the train had halted.

So the train arrives; locomotive and tender pass to the left of the camera followed by a mail car and a string of passenger cars. Louis has been cranking since the train was in good view. The crowd on platform can be restrained no more. They break ranks and move to the platform edge, ready to board, as the train stops. The two women with children in hand bustle about looking for someone. The matriarch stands still - observing. A young, and unscripted, peasant lad wanders about seemingly unsure as to where he should go to find his car. Dazed by the adventure of his first train ride? Then the doors open (on the French railway equipment the compartments are entered/exited directly to the platform.) Passengers begin to detrain. Louis has run out of film and stops cranking.

The first railroad train to star in a movie prepares to move on to Toulon (on schedule no doubt.)


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